Archive | February, 2013

Vol. 13 | Issue 12

18 Feb

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Interest in Project Lead the Way growing

Interest in Project Lead the Way is high among students, parents, and community leaders, says Aiddy Phomvisay, principal at Marshalltown High School.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is “the leading provider of rigorous and applied science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in the United States”. Gateway to Technology (GTT), the middle school component of PLTW, began at Miller last fall, replacing the old Modular Tech curriculum. In GTT, students participate in eight independent units focused on design and modeling, automation and design, and other STEM areas.

PLTW expands to Marshalltown High School in fall 2013, with the introduction of the Pathway To Engineering (PTE) and Biomedical Sciences Program (BMS).

Course offerings at MHS will include Principles of Biomedical Science, Introduction to Engineering, and Principles of Engineering. Each course in the PLTW program will earn students college credit.

“These are the things the kids are interested in and want to be involved in,” Phomvisay said.

To prepare for PLTW courses, MHS will receive two new state-of-the-art computer labs with the latest in software and technology. The school has received a $35,000 grant to start the PLTW program at the high school level and at Monday’s Board meeting accepted checks from a number of local business and organizations to support PLTW implementation.

Emerson Process Management – Fisher Division has pledged $75,000 over three years to PLTW. The Marshalltown Economic Development Committee (MEDIC) is giving $60,000. Lennox Industries has pledged $30,000 over three years and the Iowa Veterans Home is giving $2,500.

Phomvisay said Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center has also pledged support, though the amount has not been finalized. There is also a partnership with Marshalltown Community College to provide college credit for the PLTW courses.

Students are in the process of signing up for fall 2013 courses at MHS right now and Phomvisay says interest in both Pathways to Engineering and Biomedical Sciences is great.

Anzis a US Presidential Scholar candidate 

Marshalltown High School senior Ben Anzis is a candidate for the prestigious US Presidential Scholars program.

Established in 1964 by presidential order, the program honors the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors. Anzis is currently among a pool of elite high school students who will vie for one of 560 semifinalist positions. Each year up to 141 students are named Presidential Scholars.

In order to be eligible for this recognition, students must be high school seniors who “score exceptionally well on either the SAT of the College Board or the ACT of the American College Testing Program or be nominated by their Chief State School Officer (CSSO) based on outstanding scholarship.”

Semifinalists will be announced in early April, with the Presidential Scholars being named in May.

Anzis was recognized before the School Board at Monday night’s meeting. He told the Board he plans to attend MIT or Cal Tech after grauating from MHS.

“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone here for supporting me and students like me in our academic endeavors,” Anzis told the Board.

Board looks at needs assessment results

Results of the Community Needs Assessment show nearly 85 percent of people feel Marshalltown Schools provide a safe learning environment.

The survey, conducted last fall in the months leading up to the Department of Education Site Visit, had 928 responses, with 85 percent being parents of current MCSD students.

Jason Staker, director of communications for Marshalltown Schools, shared the survey results with the Board during Monday’s regular meeting. The survey gauged opinions on academic programs, special programs, supplemental programs and environment, as well as learning about how and where people like to receive information about schools.

In almost every category the majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed Marshalltown Schools were providing good academic programs, extra-curricular activities, etc. In the category of supplemental programs more responses were in the “Don’t Know” category. Staker told the Board this was probably due to the fact these specific programs – like English Language Learner services and At-Risk programming – were not experienced by some of the individuals answering the survey.

Several themes emerged from among the comments on the survey. First was the positive changes being seen at Marshalltown High School. Staker said numerous comments noted parents and students noticing a positive environment and an appreciation for the dedication and enthusiasm of principal Aiddy Phomvisay. Other comments suggested looking at more times and opportunities for parent involvement and ways to connect families with community resources.

Staker said the next step is to examine current district practices to determine how they can be altered to meet the needs addressed in the survey. Feedback from the Site Visit report will also factor in to this process. Staker also said he plans to create a shorter version of the needs assessment to complete annually in order to track progress.

Art Club traveling to Chicago March 16

The Board approved a trip to Chicago for the Marshalltown High School Art Club Saturday, March 16.

Students will visit the Art Institute to see a Picasso exhibit and see the National Museum of Mexican Art. Some funding for the trip will be from Art Club fundraising, while some will be from students. Cost will be $50-75 per passenger.

Health Careers Club plans trip

The Marshalltown Area Health Careers Club will visit the Robert Lurie Cancer Treatment Center at Northwestern University March 8-9, 2013.

The Board approved the trip Monday night, which includes a half day with doctors, nurses, students and others who are responsible for the care and treatment of patients with cancer. Thirty-two MHS students will participate, as well as two from South Tama.

Chaperones will be Dan Terrones and Lisa Wunn, MHS Deans of Students, Erin Weatherly, MHS Teacher, and John Hughes, CEO at MMSC.

Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center will sponsor this trip. GEAR UP funds will also be used to cover some of the costs for 11th grade students. Students will provide money for eating and any shopping expenses they may incur.


By Sherm Welker, Board President

Tonight the Board was asked to expand our curriculum at MHS to include Engineering and Health Science electives that will provide added opportunities for college credits. This new program, called “Project Lead the Way,” is centered on Engineering and Health Sciences that are vital to our local economy and fully supported by our partner business leaders. We also accepted major donations from Emerson Process Management – Fisher Division, MEDIC, Lennox and the Iowa Veterans home. These partners and others, including Marshalltown Community College and Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, will help support and fund this program for the next three years and beyond. This is just another factor that make Marshalltown a great place to live and educate our students. Thank you again to our business partners for your trust and support!


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

Last month’s site visit by the Iowa Department of Education provided feedback to the district from educational experts from across the state. Monday evening’s presentation of the 2012 Community Needs Assessment provided us with additional input from 928 residents of our community. We greatly appreciate the individuals who contributed to these efforts – the compliments and concerns from both sources are important to the continuous improvement effort of our district.

It is always great to have one or more of our outstanding students at a board meeting, so the recognition of MHS senior Ben Anzis was a highlight of the evening. His nomination for the prestigious US Presidential Scholars program is a great honor and we wish him much continued success.


First Reading

402.2 Child Abuse Reporting, waive second reading

703.4/703.4-E Fiscal Management – Performance Measures, return for second reading

Initial Review

403.1 Employee Physical Examinations

403.3 Communicable Diseases – Employees, mark reviewed

403.4 Hazardous Chemical Right to Know

403.5 Harassment – Employees, change that superintendent or designee shall develop a schedule for annual ongoing training.

703.5 Finance Committee, change portion about casualty and worker’s comp insurance section so it states the board acts on a recommendation made by administration.

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Vol. 13 | Issue 11

4 Feb

View PDF version here.

District works to graduate more students on time

While it’s too early to calculate the actual graduation rate for 2013, district administrators told the Board they are working hard to ensure more students earn a Marshalltown High School diploma in four years and the data so far is promising.

In the first semester at MHS attendance increased over the same period last year, with fewer in-school and out-of-school suspensions. Students are also failing fewer classes and fewer are credit deficient. Principal Aiddy Phomvisay said many of the credit deficient students are currently enrolled in classes to put them back on track. The students are on “critical watch lists” in their Smaller Learning Communities, with case managers tracking progress.

“We really can’t reach into the bag and pull out a hard and fast number today, but from all the indicators we’re hearing – what we’re doing is working,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement.

Graduation rates are calculated by the Department of Education and impact District In Need of Assistance and School In Need of Assistance designations. The 2013 target in the Strategic Action Plan is 89 percent. Dr. Marvin Wade, superintendent of schools, told the Board he wants the community to be aware that increasing graduation rate means increasing student achievement, not decreasing standards.

“We won’t get the graduation rate up by lowering the bar,” he said. “That’s non-negotiable.”

Scholarship established in memory of Donna Hoop

Adam and Jared Hoop were present at the Board meeting Monday night to establish a scholarship in memory of their mother, Donna Hoop.

The Donna Hoop Memorial Scholarship will be a $1000 annual scholarship going to one student or one male and one female. Students must have a 3.5 GPA, be a varsity student athlete, plan to enroll in a two- or four-year degree program in Iowa, and submit a 400-word essay reflecting on athletic participation and the vital role families play in supporting their students.

The Hoop Family gave $10,000 to establish the scholarship.

They’ve always been so gracious to our school and community,” High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay said.

Donna Hoop passed away Jan. 11, 2013, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Low-interest loans available through Frank Pierce Trust 

Frank Pierce was 25 when he became mayor of Marshalltown in 1896. He and his wife devoted their lives to the city and when they died they established a trust to ensure future generations of Marshalltown youth could afford quality college education.

Established in 1950, the Frank Pierce Trust is a revolving education fund that offers loans to Marshalltown High School graduates at 2 percent less interest than the Federal student loan rate. Since its inception, the trust has dispensed 939 loans, loaning about $200,000 a year.

“This is huge,” said Board President Sherm Welker.

Loans are available only to MHS graduates going to an Iowa college. Applications are available at Grimes Law Firm or in the MHS Counseling Office. Applicants go through an interview process with trustees and can reapply for funds every year. Repayment begins upon graduation or end of schooling and must be repaid in 10 years.

To date there is $1.84 million in outstanding loans from the trust and another $636,000 available to make new loans.

District seeks more opportunities to offer college-level courses

One in five students at Marshalltown High School this year is enrolled in some form of college-level coursework and the district would like to see that number increase.

Increasing participation in college-level coursework is one part of the Strategic Action Plan. In 2012-2013 20 percent of MHS students are enrolled in classes that could earn them college credit, a decrease from 21.8 percent last year.

“It does mean we have work to do,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement.

Pecinovsky said the district is looking at new ways to offer coursework outside of the traditional school day, including online classes.

“We are continuing to look for opportunities that fall outside of seat time,” she said.

New programs coming to MHS, like Project Lead The Way, will also offer more opportunities for college credit.

High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay noted that the class of 2012 earned 400 college credits while at MHS, equating to about $55,600 in tuition parents and students saved by taking the classes while in high school.


By Sherm Welker, Board President

A new scholarship was presented to the District tonight from the family of Donna Hoop. The new scholarship will provide funding to Marshalltown High School student athletes pursuing further education at an Iowa college or university. Many thanks to the Hoop family for their donation to the future of our students.

We also heard tonight about the Frank Pierce Trust that provides college loan to MHS students. The Trust was established in 1950 and has provided 939 loans to college students since it was stated. The current loan balance is $1.8 million and the trust has an ample balance for more loans. The interest rate is set at 2 percent below the Federal student loan rate and payments are delayed until the student completes their college education. To qualify, MHS graduates must be attending an Iowa college or university and maintain a 2.0 GPA. This fund should be the first choice for any student needing to borrow for their advanced education, as the interest rate is well below other funds that are available. Please see your guidance counselors or contact the Grimes Law Office for application details.

As with both of these funds, MHS students have many opportunities to continue their education and advance their goals and dreams. This is just another reason that Marshalltown is the school district of choice.


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

Increasing student achievement and maintaining a safe/supportive learning environment are two district objectives frequently discussed by the Board. Tonight’s education portion of the meeting focused entirely on the third MCSD objective –  increasing readiness for further education and employment. The Board heard about student development of workplace competencies, completion of challenging curriculum, and graduation from high school.

Particularly impressive is the number of opportunities for Marshalltown High School students to earn college credits though Postsecondary Enrollment (PSEO), Concurrent Enrollment, and Advanced Placement classes. We’d like to see more students take advantage of the chance to earn college credits while in high school, so please encourage students who will attend MHS next year (and their parents) to strongly weigh the educational and financial benefits of PSEO, Concurrent Enrollment and Advanced Placement as course selections are made in the near future.


First Reading

600.1 Nondiscrimination, amended based on Site Visit recommendations, waive second reading

603.12 Internet – Appropriate and Safe Use, amended based on Site Visit recommendations, waive second reading

Initial Review

402.2/E/R Child Abuse Reporting, note that it’s an approved training course

402.3/E1/E2/R Abuse of Students by School District Employees, mark reviewed

402.4 Gifts to Employees, mark reviewed

402.5 Public Complaints About Employees, mark reviewed

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